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As building large nuclear stations stall in UK, sites are picked for ‘small] nuclear reactors

REVEALED: Sites for revolutionary mini nuclear power stations led by Rolls-Royce are set to be built in the North of England

  • Whitehall is planning new small nuclear power plants in Cumbria and Wales
  • Britain’s eight large-scale nuclear power plants are reaching their end of life
  • Plans to build a new generation of large-scale nuclear power stations are stalled
  • Officials hope these smaller power stations will be able to plug the potential gap 

Daily Mail, By NEIL CRAVEN FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY  19 January 2020 | The first of a new generation of revolutionary mini nuclear power stations is to be built in the North of England and North Wales by a consortium led by Rolls-Royce, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

A number of existing licensed nuclear sites have already been informally discussed within Whitehall.

The sites under consideration include Moorside in Cumbria and Wylfa in North Wales, where plans for future large-scale reactor projects have recently been shelved/

Britain’s eight large-scale nuclear power plants are nearing the end of their collective lifespan, with most due to close by the end of the decade.

Now a consortium led by Rolls-Royce has tabled plans, subject to approval from regulators, to have the first small reactor plugged in by 2030, promising reliable, low-carbon electricity for decades to come.

It will be followed by up to 16 more mini reactors at other sites, with plans for all to be producing electricity.

It is understood that other locations being considered include Trawsfynydd in Snowdonia, North Wales…….

The pre-fabricated modules would then be transported to sites for construction. Officials have cautioned, though, that there could be public opposition in some areas to a nuclear facility being built nearby. ……..

Work at Wylfa by nuclear developer Horizon, owned by Japanese firm Hitachi, was suspended a year ago amid rising costs. Only months before, plans for a new nuclear power station at Moorside were scrapped after the Japanese giant Toshiba announced it was winding up the project.

A joint investment of £500 million between the Government and the Rolls-Royce consortium was proposed last summer. An initial award from the Government of £18 million was signed off in November, which the consortium will match.

One nuclear industry source said: ‘There is broad support for this programme from Government.’

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | 1 Comment

No chance of re-using spent mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, its storage highly dangerous


January 18, 2020 Posted by | Japan, politics, safety, technology | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors’ costs and toxicity

Small modular nuclear reactors – a case of wishful thinking at best, NB Media Cop. by Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay, Pierre Jasmin, 21 Dec 19

“……….4 Small Modular – Nuclear – Reactors’ costs & toxicity

That Carnegie-Mellon report includes Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in its analysis, without being any more hopeful than we are. This is mainly because a new generation of smaller reactors, such as those promised for New Brunswick, will necessarily be more expensive per unit of energy produced, if manufactured individually. The sharply increased price can be partially offset by mass production of prefabricated components; hence the need for selling hundreds or even thousands of these smaller units in order to break even and make a profit. However, the order book is filled with blank pages — there are no customers. This being the case, finding investors is not easy. So entrepreneurs are courting governments to pony up with taxpayers’ money, in the hopes that this second attempt at a Nuclear Renaissance will not be the total debacle that the first one turned out to be.

Chances are very slim however. There are over 150 different designs of “Small Modular Reactors.” None of them have been built, tested, licensed or deployed. At Chalk River, Ontario, a consortium of private multinational corporations, comprised of SNC-Lavalin and two corporate partners, operating under the name “Canadian Nuclear Laboratories” (CNL), is prepared to host six or seven different designs of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors — none of them being identical to the two proposed for New Brunswick – and all of these designs will be in competition with each other. The Project Description of the first Chalk River prototype Small Modular Reactor has already received over 40 responses that are posted on the CNSC web site, and virtually all of them are negative comments.

The chances that any one design will corner enough of the market to become financially viable in the long run is unlikely. So the second Nuclear Renaissance may carry the seeds of its own destruction right from the outset. Unfortunately, governments are not well equipped to do a serious independent investigation of the validity of the intoxicating claims made by the promoters, who of course conveniently overlook the persistent problem of long-lived nuclear waste and of decommissioning the radioactive structures. These wastes pose a huge ecological and human health problem for countless generations to come.

Finally, in the list of projects being investigated, one finds a scaled-down “breeder reactor” fuelled with plutonium and cooled by liquid sodium metal, a material that reacts violently or explodes on contact with air or water. The breeder reactor is an old project abandoned by Jimmy Carter and discredited by the failure of the ill-fated French SuperPhénix because of its extremely dangerous nature. In the event of a nuclear accident, the Tennessee Clinch River Breeder Reactor was judged capable of poisoning twelve American states and the SuperPhénix half of France.

One suspects that our three premiers are only willing to revisit these bygone reactor designs in order to obtain funding from the federal government while avoiding responsibility for their inaction on more sensible strategies for combatting climate changes – cheaper, faster and safer alternatives, based on investments in energy efficiency and renewable sources.

By Gordon Edwards PhD, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility; with assistance by Michel Duguay, PhD, professor at Laval University & Pierre Jasmin, UQAM, Quebec Movement for Peace and Artiste pour la Paix.

Gordon Edwards, PhD
Michel Duguay, PhD
Pierre Jasmin,

This article is also published in French, link here.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

As conventional nuclear reactors fail economically, the pro nuclear turn to the fantasy of small nuclear reactors

Small modular nuclear reactors – a case of wishful thinking at best,  NB Media Coop, by Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay, Pierre Jasmin,  21 Dec 19

On Friday the 13th, September 2019, the Saint John Telegraph-Journal’s front page was dominated by what many readers hoped will be a good luck story for New Brunswick – making the province a booming and prosperous Nuclear Energy powerhouse for the entire world. After many months of behind-the-scenes meetings throughout New Brunswick with utility company executives, provincial politicians, federal government representatives, township mayors and First Nations, two nuclear entrepreneurial companies laid out a dazzling dream promising thousands of jobs – nay, tens of thousands! – in New Brunswick, achieved by mass-producing and selling components for hitherto untested nuclear reactors called SMNRs (Small Modular Nuclear Reactors) which, it is hoped, will be installed around the world by the hundreds or thousands!

On December 1, the Saskatchewan and Ontario premiers hitched their hopes to the same nuclear dream machine through a dramatic tripartite Sunday press conference in Ottawa featuring the premiers of the provinces. The three amigos announced their desire to promote and deploy some version of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in their respective provinces. All three claimed it as a strategy to fight climate change, and they want the federal government to pledge federal tax money to pay for the R&D. Perhaps it is a way of paying lip service to the climate crisis without actually achieving anything substantial; prior to the recent election, all three men were opposed to even putting a price on carbon emissions.

Motives other than climate protection may apply. Saskatchewan’s uranium is in desperate need of new markets, as some of the province’s most productive mines have been mothballed and over a thousand uranium workers have been laid off, due to the global decline in nuclear power. Meanwhile, Ontario has cancelled all investments in over 800 renewable energy projects – at a financial penalty of over 200 million dollars – while investing tens of billions of dollars to rebuild many of its geriatric nuclear reactors. This, instead of purchasing surplus water-based hydropower from Quebec a lot less expensive and more secure.

In a December 2 interview on QUB radio, Gilles Provost, spokesperson for the Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive (Movement against radioactive pollution, a Quebec-based group) and former environmental journalist at Le Devoir, criticized the announcement of the three premiers as ill-considered and premature, since none of the conjectural nuclear reactor prototypes exist in reality. Quite a contrast to the three premiers’ declarations, boldly claiming that “SMRs” (they leave out the “N” to minimize public opposition) will help solve climate change, knowing full well that it will take a decade or more before any benefits can possibly be realized – IF EVER.

These new nuclear reactors are so far perfectly safe, because they exist only on paper and are cooled only by ink. Declaring them a success before they are built is quite a leap of faith, especially in light of the three previous Canadian failures in this field of “small reactors.” Two 10-megawatt MAPLE reactors were built at Chalk River and never operated because of insuperable safety concerns, and the 10-megawatt “Mega-Slowpoke” district heating reactor never earned a licence to operate, again because of safety concerns. The Mega-Slowpoke was offered free of charge to two universities – Sherbrooke and Saskatchewan –both of whom refused the gift. And a good thing too, as the only Mega-Slowpoke ever built (at Pinawa, Manitoba) is now being dismantled without ever producing a single useful megawatt of heat.

2 “Nuclear renaissance” – clambering out of the dark ages?

This current media hype about modular reactors is very reminiscent of the drumbeat of grandiose expectations that began around 2000, announcing the advent of a Nuclear Renaissance that envisaged thousands of new reactors — huge ones! — being built all over the planet. That initiative turned out to be a complete flop. Only a few large reactors were launched under this banner, and they were plagued with enormous cost-over-runs and extraordinarily long delays, resulting in the bankruptcy or near bankruptcy of some of the largest nuclear companies in the world – such as Areva and Westinghouse – and causing other companies to retire from the nuclear field altogether – such as Siemens.

Speculation about that promised Nuclear Renaissance also led to a massive (and totally unrealistic) spike in uranium prices, spurring uranium exploration activities on an unprecedented scale. It ended in a near-catastrophic collapse of uranium prices when the bubble burst. Cameco was forced to close down several mines. They are still closed. The price of uranium has still not recovered from the plunge.

Large nuclear reactors have essentially priced themselves out of the market. Only Russia, China and India have managed to defy those market forces with their monopoly state involvements. Nevertheless, the nuclear contribution to world electricity production has plummeted from 17 percent in 1997 to about 10 percent in 2018. In North America and Western Europe, the prospects for new large reactor projects are virtually nil, and many of the older reactors are shutting down permanently without being replaced. By Gordon Edwards PhD, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility; with assistance by Michel Duguay, PhD, professor at Laval University & Pierre Jasmin, UQAM, Quebec Movement for Peace and Artiste pour la Paix.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – just a speculative technology, no use against climate change

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Is anyone really interested in Small Modular Nuclear Reactors? (- only those selling them)

comment on article below

Someone should have challenged the headline. Whose interest in Small Modular Reactors is growing?

Not the major nuclear firms.

At the graveyard wherein resides the “nuclear renaissance” of the 2000s, a new occupant appears to be moving in: the small modular reactor (SMR). … Over the past year, the SMR industry has been bumping up against an uncomfortable and not-entirely-unpredictable problem: It appears that no one actually wants to buy one.”

Overton notes that in 2013, MidAmerican Energy scuttled plans to build an SMR-based plant in Iowa. This year, Babcock & Wilcox scaled back much of its SMR program and sacked 100 workers in its SMR division. Westinghouse has abandoned its SMR program. As he explains:

“The problem has really been lurking in the idea behind SMRs all along. The reason conventional nuclear plants are built so large is the economies of scale: Big plants can produce power less expensively per kilowatt-hour than smaller ones.

“The SMR concept disdains those economies of scale in favor of others: large-scale standardized manufacturing that will churn out dozens, if not hundreds, of identical plants, each of which would ultimately produce cheaper kilowatt-hours than large one-off designs.

“It’s an attractive idea. But it’s also one that depends on someone building that massive supply chain, since none of it currently exists. … That money would presumably come from customer orders – if there were any. Unfortunately, the SMR “market” doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

“SMRs must compete with cheap natural gas, renewables that continue to decline in cost, and storage options that are rapidly becoming competitive. Worse, those options are available for delivery now, not at the end of a long, uncertain process that still lacks [US Nuclear Regulatory Commission] approval.

Interest in Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Is Growing. So Are Fears They Aren’t Viable, SMRs are the future of nuclear. Will they always be the future? GTM JASON DEIGN MARCH 14, 2018  The slow-moving small modular reactor (SMR) market saw some positive activity in recent weeks, even as one expert predicted the technology would never achieve commercialization.

Earlier this month, the World Nuclear Association reported that Ukraine had signed a memorandum of understanding with SMR developer Holtec International, aiming to turn the Eastern European nation into a manufacturing hub for Holtec’s SMR-160 reactors.

The Association said Holtec is planning a Ukrainian manufacturing plant to allow for partial localization of its 160-megawatt SMRs, so Ukraine’s nuclear operator Energoatom can use the design to replace two aging Russian VVER-440 reactors at its Rivne nuclear power plant.

The news came a week after the government of Canada announced a road-mapping exercise to explore the potential of SMRs in the country.

“The road map will be an important step in positioning Canada to advance next-generation technologies and become a global leader in the emerging SMR market,” said Natural Resources Canada, a federal institution.

This was welcome news for a technology that has been slow to achieve commercialization — and which some believe might never take off.

In the December 2017 edition of the National University of Singapore’s Energy Studies Institute Bulletin, for example, Canadian academic Professor M.V. Ramana provided a detailed argument for why SMRs could never be a viable technology.

Nuclear plants in general require high levels of capital, he noted, and high construction costs mean the electricity they provide ends up being more expensive than coal, gas and, more recently, wind and solar.

SMRs may be able to overcome the first problem, said Ramana, who is a professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs.

But SMRs could end up with even higher energy costs because the smaller reactors can’t take advantage of economies of scale unless they’re manufactured “by the thousands, even under very optimistic assumptions about rates of learning.”

Experience indicates such rates of learning may be rare in the nuclear industry. In France and the U.S., according to Ramana, reactor construction costs have historically risen rather than falling.

Also, mass production would need the industry to settle on a single SMR design. As of 2016 there were 48 listed by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Finally, said Ramana, for all the interest in SMRs, no country has yet got behind the technology enough for it to be commercialized. This likely indicates demand for the reactors is not as solid as proponents imagine.

“SMRs seem appealing to many countries at first sight,” Ramana told GTM. “But once they get into the actual nitty gritty of planning an SMR project, they realize that there are numerous problems.

“Economics are a significant challenge, as is the problem of finding sites to construct the many units that would have to replace a single nuclear reactor.” …..

December 21, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Renewable energy to fight climate change, – NOT Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

December 14, 2019 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | 1 Comment

Muons: probing the depths of nuclear waste

Muons: probing the depths of nuclear waste,  physicsworld, 12 Dec 2019

Taken from the December 2019 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app.

Having used them to look through rock, physicists are now exploiting muons to peer inside canisters of radioactive waste. The ability could prove very handy for nuclear inspectors, as Edwin Cartlidge reports

……muons – energetic subatomic particles that can pass through thick layers of dense material and which the scientists in Egypt used to look inside the limestone and granite pyramid.

Muons are generated routinely in particle colliders, where physicists use them to identify other, potentially more exotic, particles within the debris. But they are also produced naturally in the atmosphere, and an ever-growing range of researchers are using these commonly occurring muons as highly penetrating probes. Beyond archaeologists, geologists, for example, are developing muon detectors to establish when magma might be on the rise within a volcano……..

Muons offer a way to establish how much waste there is in a container without having to open or move the container in question. That capability would become vital, according to Matt Durham of Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US, should inspectors or the countries involved ever lose confidence in their monitoring. “This issue is only getting worse as more plutonium piles up around the world,” he says.

Muons offer a way to establish how much waste there is in a container without having to open or move the container in question………

December 14, 2019 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

Floating small nuclear reactors bring serious risks

nuclear experts have highlighted crucial negatives that cast doubt on the floating nuclear utopia.Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace Netherlands senior expert nuclear energy and energy policy, sees the three main disadvantages of Akademin Lomonosov to be the big human factors risk, its problematic construction, and the pollution of the Arctic region with nuclear waste.

this project is reintroducing a major pollution risk in an area which functions as a climate regulator for the globe – “the Arctic pristine area, which is a very important natural area for the entire balance on the planet,”

Is floating nuclear power a good idea?  Power Technology  By Yoana Cholteeva, 9 Dec 19,  Floating nuclear power promises to provide a steady source of energy at hard-to-reach locations, but at the same time the dangers inherent in nuclear power make some question whether it’s safe enough for areas where help is hard to find. Is floating nuclear power really a good idea? Yoana Cholteeva investigates.

Russian nuclear company Rosatom announced the arrival of the world’s first floating nuclear power plant, Akademik Lomonosov, in September 2019 when the technology was transported to the port of its permanent location in Russia’s Far East. The 144m-long and 30m-wide vessel has now docked at the port in Pevek, off the coast of Chukotka, where it will stay before its commissioning next year.

Akademik Lomonosov will use small modular reactor technology and is equipped with two KLT-40C reactor systems with 35MW capacity each. It has been designed to access hard-to-reach areas where it can operate for three to five years without the need for refuelling. It also has an overall life cycle of 40 years, which may be extended to 50 years Continue reading

December 10, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, Russia, safety, technology | Leave a comment

Significant obstacles to Rolls Royce’s fantasy of “clean” nuclear-supplied jet fuel

Rolls-Royce Touts Nuclear Reactors as Key to Clean Jet Fuel, Bloomberg, 

By Christopher Jasper,December 6, 2019, 
  • Synthetics, biofuels to be mainstay of aviation, CEO says
  •  Small reactors to be used to generate required electricityRolls-Royce Holdings Plc is pitching nuclear reactors as the most effective way of powering the production of carbon-neutral synthetic aviation fuel without draining global electricity grids.

    Drawing on technology developed for nuclear-powered submarines, the small modular reactors or SMRs could be located at individual plants to generate the large amounts of electricity needed to secure the hydrogen used in the process, according to Chief Executive Officer Warren East…….

    The proposals face significant obstacles, including widespread public concern about radiation leaks and the safe disposal of nuclear waste, as well as question marks over U.K. plans to revive the sector after Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. withdrew from major projects.Rolls aims to minimize regulatory barriers by building an initial network of 16 SMRs on the sites of former U.K. nuclear power stations still approved for atomic use.

    The plants, costing 1.8 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) apiece, would feed the national grid and come online from the 2030s, with all complete by 2050.

December 7, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – many pitfalls, including security risks

‘Many issues’ with modular nuclear reactors says environmental lawyer,

Three premiers have agreed to work together to develop the technology, Jordan Gill · CBC News   Dec 03, 2019  Modular nuclear reactors may not be a cure for the nation’s carbon woes, an environmental lawyer said in reaction to an idea floated by three premiers.

Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, said the technology surrounding small reactors has numerous pitfalls, especially when compared with other renewable energy technology.

This comes after New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Ontario Premier Doug Ford agreed to work together to develop the technology.

Small modular reactors are easy to construct, are safer than large reactors and are regarded as cleaner energy than coal, the premiers say. They can be small enough to fit in a school gym.  Designs have been submitted to Canada’s nuclear regulator for review as part of a pre-licensing process.

The premiers say the smaller reactors would help Canada reach its carbon reduction targets but McClenaghan, legal counsel for the environmental group, disagrees.

“I don’t think it is the answer,” said McClenaghan. “I don’t think it’s a viable solution to climate change.”

McClenaghan said the technology behind modular reactors is still in the development stage and needs years of work before it can be used on a wide scale.

“There are many issues still with the technology,” said McClenaghan. “And for climate change, the risks are so pervasive and the time scale is so short that we need to deploy the solutions we already know about like renewables and conservation.”

Waste, security concerns: lawyer

While nuclear power is considered a low-carbon method of producing electricity, McClenaghan said the waste that it creates brings its own environmental concerns.

“You’re still creating radioactive waste,” said McClenaghan.

“We don’t even have a solution to nuclear fuel waste yet in Canada and the existing plans are not taking into account these possibilities.”

McClenanghan believes there are national security risks with the plan as well.  She said having more reactors, especially if they’re in rural areas, means there’s a greater chance that waste or fuel from the reactors could be stolen for nefarious purposes.

“You’d be scattering radioactive materials, potentially attractive to diversion, much further across the country,” said the environmental lawyer.

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Russia’s Rosatom planning to market Small Modular Nuclear Reactors to Europe

December 2, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Russia, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Premiers of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick to plan development of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Ontario, Saskatchewan, N.B. premiers to announce nuclear reactor deal, Global News  BY STAFF THE CANADIAN PRESS November 30, 2019 “….. The Ontario government said Premier Doug Ford will meet with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs for an announcement at a hotel near Pearson International Airport on Sunday afternoon.

A spokesman with Moe’s office confirmed the announcement is connected to an agreement on technology for small modular reactors, while a spokeswoman for Ford’s office said it’s an agreement to work together to determine the best technologies for the deployment of small modular reactors in Canada……

Moe has said that Saskatchewan will address climate change over the next decade by looking to carbon capture and storage technology and by increasing research efforts around small modular nuclear reactors.

However, the possibility of bringing nuclear power to Saskatchewan could still be years away

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Canada, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Nuclear-Powered Aircraft failed for both USA and Soviets

Both U.S. and Soviet Attempts at Developing a Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Ended in Failure   Nuclear shielding and weight issues proved insurmountable to both the U.S. and the Soviet Union.  By  Marcia Wendorf, November 17, 2019. In the 1950s, people dreamed of using nuclear energy to power all manner of transport — from cars to airplanes to airships. In the U.S. the father of the nuclear reactor, Enrico Fermi, envisioned a nuclear-powered aircraft, while in the USSR, the chief designer of the Soviet atomic bomb, Aleksandr Kurchatov, thought nuclear-powered “heavy aircraft” could be built.

A nuclear-powered bomber seemed a no-brainer since it could theoretically stay aloft indefinitely, providing an effective deterrent to a nuclear attack. Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union researched nuclear-powered aircraft, but neither country developed an active-duty version due to problems inherent in the design. These included shielding air and ground crews from radiation, and the possible effect of a crash.

To date, no civilian nuclear-powered aircraft has ever been created.

Nuclear-powered jet engines

In May 1946, the U.S. Air Force initiated the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) program. In 1951, NEPA was supplanted by the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) program, which was run by the Atomic Energy Commission………….

As an odd aside to the nuclear-powered aircraft story, the U.S. military considered solving the shielding problem by employing elderly crews to fly the nuclear-powered airplanes. Their thinking was that the crew would die of natural causes before the effects of radiation could kill them.

November 17, 2019 Posted by | technology | Leave a comment

Will Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarines make nuclear submarines obsolete?

Why is the nuclear lobby frantically propagandising nuclear reactors for Australian submarines, just as it looks as if cheaper AIP submarines look likely to take over?  (Sell SMRS for submarines off quickly to a dumb nation, before they’re obsolete?)

AIP powered-submarines have proliferated across the world using three different types of engines, with nearly 60 operational today in fifteen countries. Around fifty more are on order or being constructed.

Stealth:…..AIP submarines can, if properly designed, swim underwater even more quietly.

Cost: ….a country could easily buy three or four medium-sized AIP submarines instead of one nuclear attack submarine


November 16, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment